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Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist [Paperback]

Roger Lowenstein
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 18 1996
Since its hardcover publication in August of 1995, Buffett has appeared on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Newsday and Business Week bestseller lists. The incredible landmark portrait of Warren Buffett's uniquely American life is now available in paperback, revised and updated by the author.

Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the twentieth century--an astounding net worth of $10 billion, and counting. His awesome investment record has made him a cult figure popularly known for his seeming contradictions: a billionaire who has a modest lifestyle, a phenomenally successful investor who eschews the revolving-door trading of modern Wall Street, a brilliant dealmaker who cultivates a homespun aura.

Journalist Roger Lowenstein draws on three years of unprecedented access to Buffett's family, friends, and colleagues to provide the first definitive, inside account of the life and career of this American original. Buffett  explains Buffett's' investment strategy--a long-term philosophy grounded in buying stock in companies that are undervalued on the market and hanging on until their worth invariably surfaces--and shows how it is a reflection of his inner self.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the 20th century -- an astounding net worth of $10 billion and counting. That awesome record has made him a cult figure.

This illuminating biography reveals a man whose conscientiousness, integrity, and good humor exist alongside an odd emotional isolation. Buffett also masterfully traces his life: his enormously successful partnership; his early, inspired investments in American Express and Geico; his companionship and investment with Katharine Graham of the Washington Post; his role in the Capital Cities purchase of ABC; his unique relationship with his wife and mistress; and his rescue of the scandal-ridden Salomon Brothers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

By picking the right stocks and businesses to invest in, plainspoken Nebraskan Warren Buffett became the richest man in the U.S. In this excellent biography, Wall Street Journal reporter Lowenstein details the billionaire stock market wizard's strategy of betting on the long-term growth of a handful of successful companies such as American Express and Berkshire Hathaway. Providing personal glimpses of a very private man, Lowenstein unearths childhood traumas such as the tormenting rages of Buffett's mother and his forced relocation to Washington, D.C., in 1943, where, at 13, he ran away from home (he was found by the police the next day). Buffett's wife, Susan Thompson, a nightclub singer, walked out on him in 1977 and was quickly replaced by his mistress, Latvian-born Astrid Menks. Lowenstein profiles an emotionally guarded, "strangely stunted" Midas obsessed with work and secrecy, who seemingly derives little pleasure from his fabulous wealth. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Almost from the day that Dr. Pollard awakened him to the world, six pounds strong and five weeks early, Warren Buffett had a thirst for numbers. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting at points, but generally tedious. Jan. 15 1999
By A Customer
Were it not for the nature of his specialty--making lots of money through intelligent investments--Warren Buffett might well be considered an idiot savant. Instead, because he is inordinately wealthy, he is viewed by his admirers as something of a demigod.
Mr. Lowenstein is one of those admirers. Despite the rather clear evidence that Mr. Buffett's personal life is a shambles, Mr. Lowenstein describes it in the most glowing terms. Hey! If you're rich, you must be happy!
As far as Mr. Buffett's investment philosophy is concerned, Mr. Lowenstein provides much useful background information and makes the point that it has evolved over time. In other words, like any other professional, he thinks about what he is doing.
Personally, I found "The Midas Touch" by John Train and Buffett's own letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway (which are available in book form) more interesting and useful. They're also much more concise.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb... highly entertaining and well written. Aug. 11 2004
Absolutely great book on the greatest investor of all time. The author of the book has done a remarkable and extensive research of anything and everything that is Warren Buffett. From before his birth up until around 1995, the book is filled with details about Warren Buffet's life, personality, and investment strategy. Although there are countless books about his life, I think this one ranks as the best in terms of details and writing style; the book never fails to entertain and keeps you highly interested. Buy this book, it is a great addition to any collection, a story of an unparalleled phenomenon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Comprehensive Biography Yet March 1 2004
This is a superbly interesting look into the life of Mr. Buffett. In my opinion, the most fascinating reading involves Warren's early years, as he learns to craft his genius and begin his life as an allocater of capital.
It's especially puzzling that despite being a nerd, Buffett easily charms many of his class mates and others with whom he interacts. These skills were wildly successful as he went out seeking capital to launch his partnership.
I have read this book a few times, and recently took to underlining the most interesting anecdotes passages and Buffettisms. After recently finishing the book, I realized that I had practically highlighted each sentence. There are many gems within to be comptemplated
If you REALLY want to understand Buffett, ignore the "Invest Like Buffett" books out there (and there are a bunch). It is a lot more worthwhile to learn about the man, and especially his principles. This book in conjunction with his annual letters to his partners / shareholders is the best method by which a student can truly learn from the Oracle of Omaha.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading May 6 2004
By Himmey
I found that I knew so little about Warren Buffett, and this gave me a wealth of knowledge. Unfortunately, the book was written before the tech boom and subsequent collapse. Therefore, you do not get a sense of what he did during that time of hysteria, but prior to that it gives an insight that most authors aren't capable of relaying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read about Buffett and be inspired. Dec 30 2003
I honestly can't say what drove me to read this book: all I know is that at some point, I knew I had to read about Warren Buffett. So I picked this book up at a bookstore (I had not had the forethought to order it online) and was immediately thrown into the life of the Oracle.
I cannot imagine anyone reading this book and not immediately becoming a disciple of Warren Buffett. In a way, Lowenstein's biography reads like a legend - Buffett is the messiah of capitalism. Imagine having an average return on investments of 29% for one solitary year. Now imagine making that same average return for 40 years! Finally, throw out any notion that making such massive amounts of money was done deceitfully or immorally. Lowenstein helps us see Buffett not as somebody who has stolen wealth away from the masses (because if anything, he's created wealth for the masses), but as an investor - someone who recognizes value and buys into that value. It's what we do when we buy stocks or fall in love (is not love simply a statment of value?): we make investments.
Lowenstein's portrait shows us of a man who has made billions by making rational and morally correct decisions. Yes, it would seem that Buffett has an ingenious ability to understand the capital markets, but even excluding his knack for money, the bottom line which Lowenstein draws is that Warren Buffett is an avatar for human beings. This is not to say that Buffett is perfect, but we would be hardpressed to find such strength of chracter and mind in another human being. How many billionaires live in the same house they've lived in for 30 years? How many CEOs tell their shareholders that they get to decide where to the company should make its charitable donations?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buffett Unplugged! Aug. 29 2003
I was given this book as a gift from a former assistant when I was a financial advisor many years ago. I just got around to reading it recently. I should have read it at its publication! Through a chronological storytelling framework, Lowenstein does an excellent job of portraying the good, the bad and the ugly. Although he seems to take great pains to paint Buffett in only the most positive light, there are times when he treads lightly over his mistakes and his somewhat strange personal life.
There are many lessons to take away from this book beyond its enjoyable read. I'll leave that to you to take what you want from this biography, but certainly Buffett has conviction, confidence and ultimate respect and trust for those he does business with. He invests for what is really the long term: life and maybe even beyond that!
He has taken his mentor, Benjamin Graham (Graham/Dodd)and over the decades moved past analyzing the numbers to factor in the people variable, though never straying too far from the numbers and allowing them to be the ultimate driver of decision making.
Again, a great read, worthwhile...enjoy it!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't sure what to expect but I wanted to learn ...
Wasn't sure what to expect but I wanted to learn more about Buffett, and I found this book fascinating! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Daryl Manderville
5.0 out of 5 stars Huge book for 20$
I really appreciate the read of this book. You learn the life of someone who has succeed in life more than anyone. It's really entertaining and the book has a lot of pages. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars The Business Genius as Everyman (Almost)
Note: The review that follows is of the Second Edition.

I recently re-read this Buffett biography (first published in 1995 and now re-issued with a new Afterword, dated... Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2008 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Anything and everything about Warren Buffett
Did you know that Warren Buffet started a number of businesses while he was still a student? Did you know that he obtained a masters degree at the age of 21? Read more
Published on April 6 2008 by Mootstreet
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Buffett Book Ever
I've read a lot of books about Warren Buffett and this is by far my favorite. If you have to read only one, read this one.
Published on June 15 2004 by Bookwormy
5.0 out of 5 stars How Buffett Thinks
This book helps you understand how one of the greatest business thinkers of all time got that way. (How would Buffett approach a paper route as a boy, for example? Read more
Published on April 16 2004 by J. Camp
5.0 out of 5 stars Five-Star Book
I am a professional investor and have been following Mr Warren Buffett for a very long time but it was only after I read Mr Lowenstein's Five-Star book that I understood -- as much... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2004 by Paul Azzopardi
4.0 out of 5 stars classic business book/bio
Thorough, thoughtful, well-written biography of the greatest investor in last 50 years. Educational, thought-provoking and entertaining. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by R. C. Kopf
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